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New Mac Pro 2013 Teardown

Check out OWC’s teardown of the new Mac Pro 2013 model.

Mac Pro 2013 upgrade options:

Memory up to 64GB, save big versus factory upgrade.

Add Thunderbolt drives and more with OWC’s Thunderbolt Central.

Add Blu-ray/DVD/CD Drives, USB 3.0 Drives, keyboards, mice and more with OWC.

OWC confirms Mac Pro 2013 processor is upgradeable.

We also connected 6 displays to the new Mac Pro and have a Mac Pro 2013 Unboxing Gallery.

Click to view actual size.


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  • Is it possible to use a pair of the video cards with the PCIe connectors to double the amount of SSD storage? Anyone tried it yet?

    • Bob, you need to explain where you’d try and put these cards. Are you asking if you could remove the graphics cards and try installing PCIe SSD cards in their place? If you want more PCIe SSDs, just get a Thunderbolt expansion box and plug some SSD cards into it. These should/might be bootable but they’d work as additional storage.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve read that there are 2 video cards that are identical, except that 1 of them has the slot on it for the SSD. If their connectors (the video cards) are identical as they appear to be, could you replace the one without the SSD slot with another that has the SSD slot, giving you a pair of SSD slots (one on each video card)?

        • The two video cards aren’t identical. The power comes in on opposite corners, for one thing. The biggest issue, I think, is that there aren’t any available PCIe lanes to drive a second “drive.”

  • If you remove and replace the CPU can apple see this in the bios or anywhere else for that matter, how would they know that the CPU had been replaced, if the original is returned before service?


    • Marcus, From what I’ve read, the CPUs are stock models so it shouldn’t matter. Of course, you’ll probably lose the warranty because you replaced a “non-user-replaceable” item. Only the memory is considered user replaceable under the warranty. Apple probably has the original serial numbers of components like the CPU and graphics cards in their records and could challenge a repair if you replaced the GPUs.

        • That’s up to you but what if the CPUs are causing the problem? Apple isn’t going to warranty your Mac Pro if you can’t replicate the problem.

          I’m not against trying to upgrade Macs, I’ve done it several times, but I usually wait until AppleCare has expired to do it.

          If the CPU upgrade cost via a non-Apple-supplied product is about the same as Apple’s (if/when they offer them), I’d go with Apple’s to get their warranty but if it’s >$500, I’d strongly think about a non-Apple CPU upgrade and hope nothing bad happens.

      • Apple told me directly that the video cards in the new mac pro will be upgradable in the future and user replaceable as well. there will be video cards in the future made for the new mac pro that you will be able to put into it.

  • Apple should bring these to match the Mac Pro:
    – Thunderbolt 2 matte display (24-inch) 4K and 3D with USB 3 and SD card reader.
    – Wired extended keyboard with USB 3 hub built-in.

    • I think that the chances of Apple releasing a matte display are vanishingly small. I have low tolerance for reflections, so I would love to see them do it, but I don’t think matte is in their vocabulary any more. I don’t know what I’ll do when my matte-screen MacBook Pro dies.

  • Can the 2013 Mac Pro Run on its Side?

    The very design says no but I have to believe that Apple would still run. The question is will it effect the performance if it’s operated laying down?

  • And is it imaginable to use the Pcie connector (used for SSD) to connect an external expansion pcie rack for multiple GPU’s or Red Rocket cards (needed in Davinci Resolve)
    What do think?

    • Its not really a PCIe slot its a NGFF M.2 slot and uses standard M.2 SSD but with AppleEFI not AHCI firmware

      • It’s not M.2 (née NGFF) at all; it’s Apple proprietary. Take a closer look at the photo and compare it to some images of M.2 cards. Totally different notching and number of contacts (Apple uses 2 rows even).

        Anyway, to answer Fabrice’s question, I believe it is only a PCIe 2.0 x4 connection, so no better than what you get from any of the 6 Thunderbolt ports that are available, and not nearly the PCIe 3.0 x16 bandwidth that most modern GPUs expect. Connecting other PCIe devices via the SSD slot is probably fairly trivial, but would still be way more trouble than it’s worth.

        • Try looking up the Samsung part number, its available for PC also as exact same card with different firmware, explain that.

          • The controller used has nothing to do with the form factor. You can build an SSD with the same controller in mSATA (essentially the same as PCI Express Mini Card), M.2, SATA 1.8-inch HDD, SATA / SATA Express 2.5-inch HDD, PCIe 2.0 x4 card, etc. versions, but that doesn’t mean you can plug any of them into a connector they’re not specifically designed for.

            Apple’s SSDs are a proprietary form factor, physically and electrically distinct from M.2. The dimensions of the board and connector, the notching, the contact pitch and number of contacts are all different. If it was just M.2, OWC would most likely be selling drop in replacements already.

        • So what will be the speed difference between the internal SSD and an external offering from OWC. What is the fastest external SSD assembly offered by OWC?

          I currently use a Data Doubler in a Mac Mini with the system files on the SSD, and user files on the internal SATA. I’d like to run both on SSD, and it sounds like it is only possible to run a single internal SSD which would be used by the system files so I would need to use an external SSD for user files. I don’t need a ton of space since I have 40TB of Synology NAS on my network.

      • Ok thanks for the answers.

        For Davinci Resolve, in fact the price to build a windows PC with two Quadro K6000 (6Go Ram each) and some CPU Xeon, Ram, cooling, box etc… it become the same price as this MacPro 2013 without stability and thunderbolt (BMD Ultrastudio 4K..) and silence and the beauty on the table. (hum)

        and all my greetings for 2014!


        • According to the tech support at Davinci installing more than 2 GPU have better result than having a faster xeon CPU. They said their program run on GPU more than CPU. CPU is only for the OS.

  • Thanks for the teardown!

    Good to see that the CPU will be upgradeable!

    Is it obvious what chipset Apple has used ? X79? C600? Can you tell by looking at the NB chip?


    • Its neither x79 or C60x, as both hav no TB support, they use a custome made Intel chipset, this is why i asked earlier.

      • It’s C602J. The new newly added photos show it clearly. Intel wasn’t going to make a custom workstation chipset, even for Apple.

        Also, Thunderbolt doesn’t require any chipset support. In fact, it doesn’t even require a chipset. Many of Apple’s implementations pull the PCIe lanes right off the CPU and feed the DisplayPort inputs from a discrete GPU.

  • Is there any chance of finding out what chipset they used? Would be interesting for the hackintosh community to know what they used to support a 2011 socket.

  • Perhaps I missed it.

    I know the CPU appears to be upgradable, assuming no firmware lock out, BUT is the GPU upgradable?

    Great job!

  • A reader elsewhere on the web commented that there are CPU specific riser cards that make the CPU non-upgradeable. Did you notice any such “riser cards” during your teardown? Thank you.

  • Hi Larry,
    Pretty cool.
    Can you tell me if I were to add another (ATI Radeon HD 5770 Graphics Upgrade Kit for my Mac Pro 3,1 will FCPX 10.1 use the additional card and improve rendering speed

  • Although you mentioned that there’s not much to tear down about the SSD, it sure looks like it’s just a pair of the proprietary PCIe based modules that we’ve seen in other 2013 Macs. What controllers and type of NAND are they using? Does each board have it’s own controller? Is this basically 2 SSDs in RAID 0 at the Core Storage level? Does this mean that 2 TB options can be created using two 1 TB modules, or are they using the two modules in a RAID 1 like setup?

    Also, I’d love to see the I/O board. This is the first Mac with a third party USB 3.0 controller. Who got the design win? Did Apple go with Fresco Logic? And how many controllers did they use? Is there a separate one for each port? How about the NICs? I believe Apple generally uses Intel NICs on the Mac Pros and Broadcom for the consumer Macs. What do we have here? I assume there are three Intel DSL5520 Thunderbolt 2 controllers on there, but any idea where they’re pulling the PCIe lanes from? Is there a PLX PCIe switch anywhere in the mix?

    Thanks for the great first look inside this machine. I was very surprised to see those 320 pin connectors and ribbon cables instead of card edge connectors all around.

    • The SSD is a single Samsung x4 PCIe based drive with a single controller and 256GB of NAND. No RAID.

      • Thanks for the response and the new pics!

        So is the second card in that close-up shot of the SSD connector just placed there for sake of comparison?

        And I still couldn’t make out the markings on the I/O board chips well enough to ID the USB 3.0 controller, or the particular PLX PCIe switch Apple used. (Sorry to keep hounding you with questions!)

  • I am very interested to know if it will be possible to upgrade the PCIe flash memory. Although 1TB seems like a lot, I use the MacPro as a server to run a medical database that requires the open spindle be in the hard disk of the server and it is already 400GB. I would really like to upgrade to the new MacPro but need to know that the internal memory is expandable.

    • I’m not sure I see why you need an internal HD.

      Surely Thunderbolt or USB3 can drive a disk just as quickly as SATA or eSATA?

      The entire downsizing of the desktop pro paradigm is occurring because internal storage just has no benefits anymore, other than something to help you boot when nothing else is connected.

  • Have a G5 MacPro bought new. Has .5G HD otherwise small RAM. Is there a way to upgrade using a MacMini or getting a basic new MacPro. You suggest server use, can the G5 be upgraded?

    • Can you go to ‘about this Mac’ and report your system ID? Whether it’s a PowerMac G5 or a Mac Pro, there are significant upgrade options for both. More so for the Mac Pro 2006-2012 models. 2009 to 2012 models support up to 128GB of memory and have 4 drive bays for additional internal drive capacity… pcie slots for add on cards and even an Accelsior PCIe SSD, etc. Night and day options there…. G5 has two bays for drives and depending on model can go to 16GB too.

  • I just hope to confirm is there are any way to make dual 3.7G CPU.
    because i do not need dual GPU which always idle except 3 4K monitor.
    currently dual GPU are totally useless to ordinarily user.

        • Ahahahaha! Your gross income will be under $5 per year. The net will be hundreds of dollars negative in electricity alone.

          The days of video card mining are long gone. You need an FPGA to barely cover electricity costs now (will never repay the hardware) or an ASIC to make an profit. With current ASICs the electricity cost is trivial, but you’ll still never recoup the hardware cost unless you’re among the first in with a new generation of chips. Which you won’t be unless you design and make your own chips.

      • I know. but not for almost application. it’s just for few program like FCP.
        anyway, thanks for good review.

    • “Dual processors” is an antiquated practice in computing especially so in a “Pro” environment that this new Mac Pro is geared towards. CPUs are and have been focusing on efficiency rather than just adding another CPU and more clock speed to the system. Producing a multi-core CPU allows for a smaller and more efficient machine, especially when thinking of heat and trying to keep the system cool enough to always perform 100% all the time. Also, just like it was said OpenCL allows for general data tasks to be offloaded to the GPUs aiding the CPU, but also this system is again geared towards a “Pro” environment that does graphic intensive tasks just as video and photo editing and Apple is attempting to push software developers to rewrite their code to be able to take advantage of these new trends in computing and is actually why they rewrote FCP. So no, no dual CPU for you

      • The point about dual-socket that seems to be missing there is that in the previous generation, you could get 4 and 6 core Xeons, and you could have one or two of them. In the current generation Xeon lineup, you can have 4, 6, 8, or 12 cores on a single socket. Basically Intel has mapped the old single and dual socket systems onto the new single socket systems. It will presumably also map the old quad-plus socket systems (which is not something you will have seen on any desktop) onto dual-socket systems. The real advantage to this move will be had in the supercomputer cluster space as well as in the single socket server/workstation space.

      • Great post. Refreshing to read your post after all the cr#p I read on other forums. Thanks Much

      • I’m sorry but your statement is just wrong. There are plenty of applications for which more threads=better and GPU is not an option (raytracing for example).

  • Do you guys have any idea about higher-capacity RAM upgrades? I know in the past you’ve sold Mac Pro memory upgrades that went beyond the official max spec. This is actually two questions:

    * Are 32G sticks even available? The only ones I’ve seen top out at 1333MHz, but you probably know better if/when/where 1868MHz ones are coming

    * Will they work in the computer? I’m guessing you’re more curious than anyone to find out. I’ve been searching around for even a rumor about this, but so far nothing.

    We’ve got a very RAM-intensive and mac-specific workload. Would love to buy some new Pro’s for it but right now it would mean downgrading to 64G which probably isn’t an option.

  • Totally wishing they would make a Mac “Prosumer”. Same shell, but with mid/high-end consumer parts (Core i7, gaming GPUs, good non-ECC memory).

    An iMac is not quite enough, but the new Mac Pro is too much.

  • Is there a FIRMWARE LOCK on the CPU, though? Thus preventing swap-out.

    So what EXACTLY is user upgradable here: everything or only some things? Some clarity is needed.

    • As a disclaimer – any change out of stock components is likely to be warranty voiding if careful attention to original power draw/wattage specs are not observed. We will be doing testing on this upgrade path for sure though.

      The video cards appear to be at least swappable in terms of what Apple offers. Would be very surprised if the different Apple cards couldn’t be swapped and this absolutely leaves the door open to future video card upgrades by one means or another…

      The processors are socketed and assuming EFI isn’t locking certain config options, paying attention to the maximum power draw of Apple offered options – the processors should be another upgradable piece of the equation.

      And – the PCIe SSD was possibilities as well. it’s got some proprietary aspects, but we do hope to overcome this regardless and then that will be an option.

      And of course – the memory is upgradable. Currently we are offering the same up to 64GB as Apple, but are testing a 128GB possibility.

      And that’s about it – but that does cover all that’s inside and kudos to Apple for the opportunity there in. This system is unbelievably fast out of the gate, it’s impressive – and when it is time to need faster – the potential to do so appears to be clear and present. That all said, based on the stock 2009-2012 Mac Pros we see on the market – seems many forget what they can do to those systems too. Most really don’t need a new Mac Pro – they’ve not scratched the surface of what their current beast can do. :)

  • I would like to keep my 2010 12 core & get a new 8 core but I would love it if FCPX could share the load. Can two late 2013 Mac pros share the fcpx load via thunderbolt? I know compressor can and the seem to have improved this feature in the latest Version so It would be so cool if FCP was heading that way. (My bank of 4 Amiga 4000s used to do it in AD pro!!)

  • Couple questions for OWC:
    1. Like the new Thunderbolt page but the Pegasus RAIDs are the old versions, not the new Pegasus2 TB2 versions. The Areca is still an TB RAID as far as I’ve seen. MacSales sells it empty, which is why the cost looks so low, and doesn’t warranty the unit past an initial 30 day period. I noticed the new TB hardware coming soon but it doesn’t include a large TB or TB2 RAID comparable to their USB3 RAIDs. I like OWC’s warranty and would like to see at least a 4 disk OWC TB product although a 6 disk is usually the minimum required for a good RAID5 setup.

    2. Have you taken the cover off the flash storage to see what’s going on or should we wait for iFixit to send it to Chipworks to figure out how it’s made?

    Thanks for the take-apart. There really aren’t that many parts.

    • You’ll be seeing a couple new Thunderbolt drive solutions from us in the next few weeks here – first at 4-bays, but we’ll not be stopping there….

      We already have the inside on the Apple PCIe SSD – nothing to really tear down there – and do hope to have solutions for all the 2013 Apple models which utilize this next gen PCIe direct storage solution. Apple leaped ahead of everyone out there by making the transition from SATA to the new PCIe direct standard – major credit to them for doing so!

  • Looks like everything is replaceable or expandable. It would be interesting if Apple offered in store upgrades?!

  • From the way it is assembled and the airflows required does it look feasible to mount it on it’s side in some kind of rack mount? Obviously the airflow goes one way and the external connections go another so it will be awkward to accommodate but is there anything. In the design and thermal heat dissipation requirements that would preclude the possibility of horizontal mounting? Perhaps advice against this in the documentation?

    • I have heard from one of the video reviews that it is certified to be run on its side so I think a rack mount with a hot side and cold side would be feasible.

  • I would love to see someone create a mount and connector for SECOND INTERNAL PCIe SSD. Better yet I would love to see a second mount for a standard SATA drive or two. There is room on the GPU which doesn’t have a PCIe SSD mount.

    • Another internal would be nice or an external enclosure to hold the included SSD and swap in another SSD and run the system off one and users off another.

  • All I’m waiting for is an expansion chassis that actually complements the device itself now. Anybody……?

    • I’m waiting for one that’s not so expensive. This new Mac Pro has no place for my 14 drives, and their eSATA and FW connections don’t help me either.

      • You might as well use your old Mac Pro as a Storage Array or Server for the new Mac Pro. This way, you will have a nice looking expansion box that you already own for your new Mac Pro.

        Otherwise, you will have to buy a Thunderbolt RAID Storage array like the Areca ARC-8050 Thunderbolt to 6Gb/s SAS RAID Storage 8-bay Thunderbolt equipped enclosure that OWC sells. Two of them will cover your multi-disk needs.

        Not that the costs will NOT come down much since the expansion boxes and storage arrays are meant for professional users.

        • I’m looking more a low-cost, 4-bay USB 3 cases. Even they aren’t cheap, but about half the drives are backups for the other half. I don’t know how I would use my current Mac Pro as a storage array, and I’m not sure I’d want to. That only accounts for 4 of the drives.

          Fortunately at this point, my current Mac Pro is fine, but I suspect at some point I will be looking for more power (in which case one of the iMacs out at that point may work just as well for me).

          • For your firewire drives you can buy a thunderbolt to firewire converter from otherworld made by apple for 29 and a lacie thunderbolt to esata for 180.

        • The original MacPro Can hold 4 3.5″ drives in the stock bays, 4 more 3.5″ drives in the optical bays, and you could squeeze at least six 2.5″ drives in the PCI bay. Theoretically, the macpro will hold 24 SATA SSDs with the appropriate PCIe HBAs.

      • “This new Mac Pro has no place for my 14 drives”
        And your old Mac Pro _did_ have room?

        What’s the total storage of your fourteen drives? There are RAID arrays that hold that many, but they’re not common or cheap.

  • Wow, I was just looking to see if someone had a teardown, it looks easier to tear down than I thought, and we can definitely upgrade the CPU ourselves!!!